Shaquille O’Neal has a net worth of over $400 million as reported by Forbes. But he wasn’t always so good at making and keeping his money.
The average NBA player is paid a salary of roughly $7.5-$8 million as of 2020-21. This is the highest average salary for a sportsperson in any league across the world. The greatest NBA players are rare commodities who can be looked at as corporations going by their own names.
However, the league wasn’t always the best in the world when it came to player salaries. In fact, the average NBA player makes more than 2 times the money he would’ve made 10 years ago.
That factor becomes 4-5x when you look at a player from the early 2000s. Go further back to the early 90s, and even the best players in the league only got paid $2-4 million in annual salary.
This meant that many role players, who didn’t gain employable skills in fields apart from basketball, were left to fend for themselves when they retired from the league. And they failed to use their head start, going bankrupt at quite an alarming rate.
Shaquille O’Neal reveals the pleasure he derives in being addressed as Dr. O’Neal
Shaq was also not a good money manager as a rookie in the NBA. The big man revealed at several junctures just how he fell $50,000 into debts a few weeks after signing his rookie contract with the Orlando Magic.
He built upon that tale in his appearance on Hot Ones a few years ago. Shaquille O’Neal narrated the story of him being a spendthrift before moving on to how he became financially more prudent:
“My parents have always raised me using scare tactics because 75% of all professional athletes, when they’re done, 5 years after they’re done and they have nothing. And they didn’t want me to be like that.”
“So I had to hire a business manager. I have 6 children, and I want them to respect more than daddy as just a check. But when I come into those parent-teacher meetings and they call me Dr. O’Neal, it gets me hard.”